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Exploring Oyster Aquaculture and The Effects Of Biodeposits
July 24, 2020

These days, oyster aquaculture is stirring up the conventional definition of agriculture. But exactly how does one grow a crop of oysters? More specifically, how are soils involved in this underwater process? The Soil Science Society of America’s (SSSA) July 1st Soils Matter blog explores oyster aquaculture and the effects of biodeposits on the subaqueous soils.

According to blogger Chelsea Duball, “Oysters are praised as ecosystem engineers. They have the natural capacity to clean major waterways by filtering up to 50 gallons of water a day! During this process, an oyster feeds off particulate matter and nutrients in natural waters. They use both to grow and reproduce.”

“Their growing process creates waste, though. Excess nutrients, particulates, and poop (yes, oysters poop!), are called ‘biodeposits’,” says Duball. “These fast-sinking biodeposits are rich in nitrogen and carbon. They also have the potential to accumulate on the seafloor. This can affect the underlying subaqueous soils and potentially overwhelm critters that live on – and in – them. For this reason, oyster farming is a methodical process that requires skill, environmental knowledge, and careful consideration.”

Once oysters are large enough in size, oyster farmers use two primary means to growing oysters:
• Bottom practices allow oysters to grow under natural condition, as they are placed onto the subaqueous soil surface and exposed to the elements.
• Off-bottom practices keep oysters in confined containers. This method provides several advantages.

A scientific study revealed that oyster aquaculture had no net-negative impacts on the soils. To learn more about oyster aquaculture, read the entire blog post here.

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